At 75, “Madeline” Still Has It

by Katie Fustich

It was almost 75 years ago that Madeline first uttered her famous “pooh-pooh” to the tiger in the Paris zoo. I want to know her secret, because that girl doesn’t look a day over six and a half.

As it turns out, Madeline’s appeal is as ageless as she is. Young ladies and gents continue to delight in Madeline’s adventures, even though she doesn’t communicate solely with Emojis or tweet @MissClavel. Rather, her appeal lies in her absolutely timeless, feisty spirit.

John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of original Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans, currently carries on the quaint legacy with his own rhymes and stories. He recently spoke to NPR about the world’s everlasting love for the twelve little girls in two straight lines. First, he laid down the law:

“It’s not an orphanage; she’s not a nun; and Madeline is not French.” Oh snap! If that just ruined your childhood forever, I suggest you follow my lead and choose to continue living in a world of 8-year-old delusions.

Marciano also commented on why the world of the books, despite its now-antiquated ways and foreignness, continues to remain so captivating:

“Kids think they are out in the world on their own, so there isn’t really anything strange about it.” 

Precisely! I remember voraciously reading my own Madeline collection as a wee lass, and I always secretly loved the fact there was nary a parent in sight. It was a world rooted in adventure and friendship, not times-tables and bans on Lucky Charms (though, I do recall the enforcement of a strict teeth-brushing code.)

Listen to Marciano’s full NPR interview HERE and take a day off from shaking your fist at the errors of “kids these days!!” After three-quarters of a century, they’re still getting this one right!



Thanks to NPR.

All images by Ludwig Bemelmans/Penguin 

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